Ever since I mentioned that it was sunny in Saunton it has been raining. Blankets of rain. Vertical, horizontal and perpendicular rain. Rain that splashes up off the ground and meets rain coming the other way. But not wanting to be confined indoors to television, or table tennis or even the swimming pool, we have carried on as before. Locals have become used to our cagouled figures passing by, hoods tightened against the wet, determined to continue with our holiday schedule.
When we arrive at the bicycle hire shop, children in three coats each, adults wiping rain out of their eyes so that they can see the way ahead, it is so wet that the owner hasn’t even opened for business. We have to make an emergency call to him for equipment.
Kitted out, we cycle along the Tarka Trail through wheeling squalls and blustery showers. My daughter is behind me in a covered trailer, so is for the most part dry. Occasionally I shout backwards into the gale to find out whether she has succumbed to hypothermia yet. We lose some as we go along, but the core of the party reaches Instow, turns round and wearily cycles back on soggy saddles, clicking grimly through the gears, against the same blurred background. In the end the weather lifts a little and I open the front of the trailer so my daughter can see her surroundings. “Are you ok?” I shout over my shoulder as usual. “Yes daddy but I’m a bit wet” comes the reply. I’ve been cycling in the rain for an hour and a half, I think, and you complain about a little drizzle? “Never mind, we’ll be back in a minute” I shout.
We arrive back at the cycle shop and the owner comes out. “Oh dear” he says, looking at my daughter. “Oh dear” he repeats.
I look round. Everyone looks round. Not being a frequent bike rider these days I have forgotten about the spray thrown up by the back wheel, most of which has found its way onto her face. She looks like she has been on night manoeuvres. Peering out from under the mud she says accusingly “I told you I was a bit wet.”